New York University’s Stern School of Business today (July 31) announced the launch of a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) four-year undergraduate business degree. The Business, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (BTE) program will enroll its first class of 30 to 50 undergrads in August 2021. That number will be closer to 30 in the first year, according to Robert Whitelaw, vice dean of the Undergraduate College at Stern, with the capacity to reach 60 students per cohort moving forward.
Stern has been working on the design of the program for the past two years, Stern Dean Raghu Sundaram says.
“The motivation is simple: With technology playing an ever-greater role in business, there is more of a need than ever for business people who understand technology and technology people who understand business,” Sundaram tells Poets&Quants. “In parallel, entrepreneurial, agile thinking has become critical in organizations large and small. The BTE program takes an integrated approach to the study of entrepreneurship, business, and technology.”
BUILDING ON A ‘ROBUST FOOTPRINT’ OF TECH & ENTREPRENEURIAL PROGRAMMING
NYU Stern sees the BTE program as a natural evolution of an established “robust footprint” in the tech and entrepreneurship space. That footprint includes the STEM-designated Andre Koo Technology and Entrepreneurship MBA, a one-year program launched in 2018. Additionally, a few months ago the school graduated its first cohort of the nine-month Endless Frontier Labs program for early-stage science and tech startups; and the school’s computing and data science concentration is the second-most popular concentration among current students, behind only finance, while the percentage of undergrads minoring in computer science has also doubled over the past five years.
“If anything, the global pandemic has illustrated how the world has become more complex, uncertain, and volatile,” says Ashish Bhatia, who will serve as academic director of the BTE degree. “In order to prepare leaders for this type of world, business schools need to instill a new type of thinking that is adaptable, intuitive, and nimble for a fast-paced world of the 21st century.”
Besides gaining skills to handle uncertainty and ambiguity, the program will put students into immersive courses in technology and entrepreneurship with focuses on analytics and coding. It will also include courses in NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Tandon School of Engineering; and half of the courses will also be in liberal arts, including a social impact core, Stern’s business core, and a global immersion requirement.
A NEW TYPE OF THINKING FOR A NEW TYPE OF BUSINESS STUDENT
The BTE’s specific curriculum is broken into four parts: a tech and entrepreneurship immersion which brings New York City’s tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem into the classroom; tech coursework; entrepreneurship coursework; and a capstone course where students either work on their own startup or work on a project for an early-stage startup.
“The BTE program differentiates itself in the way that it integrates student learning around entrepreneurship and technology and in the way it helps foster community,” Bhatia says. “BTE students as a cohort will take a Stern Solutions designed immersive course in Tech & Entrepreneurship that will help them foster an action-oriented, entrepreneurial mindset while also developing a big-picture perspective of the tech ecosystem, including important tech topics ranging from the sharing economy to the ethics of tech.”
After that, Bhatia says, students will build on that foundation through the tech and entrepreneurship coursework and them come together again as a cohort for the capstone course, which will take place in the NYC Entrepreneurship Lab.
“The integrated study of business and technology, as opposed to the independent study of each, creates cross-fertilization in an organic way; it communicates both the significant possibilities that technology offers to create value for businesses and customers as also its limitations and biases,” Sundaram adds. “At Stern we are fortunate to house one of the largest and most talented faculty of computer and data scientists among business schools that works at the intersection of these two dynamic fields. Enhancing this even more is the technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem of New York City to which we’re deeply tied in many ways including via our Tech MBA Advisory Board and the Endless Frontier Labs.”
AN EVOLVING WAY OF THINKING ABOUT ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION
Other business schools have created similar programs, representing a shift in traditional business education. The University of California-Berkeley’s Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology Program (M.E.T.) launched in 2016 and just graduated its first cohort. That program awards two degrees — one from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and the other from the College of Engineering.
Bhatia has recently studied the importance of “imaginative entrepreneurship programs” within business schools. There is an opportunity to deviate from the B-school tradition of “relying on scientific management,” Bhatia says of his findings from the study that was published with fellow Stern professor Natalia Levina. Instead, Bhatia says, B-schools should begin embracing new philosophies and ways of thinking around teaching entrepreneurship.
“The BTE program fully embraces this perspective by, for example, helping students leverage multiple approaches to entrepreneurship from entrepreneurial strategy, to lean startup, to effectual entrepreneurship, whereby students leverage their own identity and resources at hand to discover possibilities for entrepreneurial action,” Bhatia says. “By introducing students to the full range of entrepreneurial tools and skills and by integrating them into an experiential education, we expect students to develop into agile entrepreneurial leaders, capable of making transformational change.”
A NEW BREED OF ‘CHANGE-MAKERS’
Whitelaw says there could be a time when tech and entrepreneurship become “centerpieces” of the best business education.
“NYU Stern’s recently launched brand call to action at its core is about embracing change,” Whitelaw explains. “Moreover, the BTE program itself is inspired by the increasingly uncertain business landscape, and our efforts to prepare students to thrive in this volatile and ambiguous environment. In that spirit, we would never want to restrict ourselves just because we have a plan in place. For example, perhaps in the future, technology and entrepreneurship become the centerpieces of the best business education everywhere, and the BTE program is well-positioned to evolve into our flagship program.”
To be sure, NYU Stern plans to create a new breed of business students through the program.
“We anticipate the program will develop an impressive group of students who are likely to pursue bold ventures directly after school, join cutting-edge startups, or be change-makers at the largest tech companies in the world,” Bhatia says. “Graduates of this program will be able to take on uniquely transformational roles where entrepreneurial business leaders are expected to be business-minded and technologically fluent.”